March 1, 2012

Return of the hop garden

Last year I attempted to grow sterling, mt. hood and kent goldings. A combination of poor planning, poor soil, my inability to be patient, a terrible grasshopper infestation and a horrifically hot and dry summer managed to kill off the kent goldings and mt. hood. The sterling grew decently but I didn't water it enough and one day grasshoppers stopped by and ate every leaf. Every one of them. I thought I had killed it, too, but when it started to cool off in September a little growth started back up.

I made the mistake of planting in the Texas soil, which is known for being very clay-filled and hard to grow, especially with the tremendously hot and long summers. (That's why many attempted settlements in the Dallas area failed.) I dug up the mt. hood and saw what looked like some live root growth so I repotted it this winter in hope it will keep growing and maybe produce a bine or two next year. I dug up the sterling yesterday and happily saw about a dozen shoots.

This year I decided to make another attempt at growing hops but avoid the problems of growing in the soil. Instead, I am planting in grow bags and then I am going to put the grow bags together into sort of a raised bed, surrounded by a wood frame with a trellis above it. The idea is that the hops will grow up strings and then branch out horizontally and provide some shade for the roots below. Since the HOA doesn't permit building higher than the fence I will have to top out at around seven feet so I need to fool the hops into thinking their are taller than they are to stimulate growth. Once the hops grow about four feet I will remove the leaves and coil the bine around the base of the plant and let it regrow up so instead of a seven foot plant it will think it is about eleven feet.

I have my sterling plant from last year but I have also purchased cascade, mt. hood and nugget to grow this year. I buy from thyme garden, which is reasonably priced and produce rhizomes in great condition. I haven't received the rhizomes yet but I hope to receive them in the next couple of weeks. In addition to the hops I am growing rosemary, tomatoes and bell peppers. I am trying to find some hatch green chiles to grow, since those are extremely tasty. I might grow something else, such as jalepenos, depending on how much room I end up having for more grow bags. My thought there is that the extra plants, in addition to producing tasty produce, will also help provide shade for the hops.

Spring break is coming up in a couple of weeks so I hope to have the time to get to building. I'll shoot up some pictures as soon as it's done.


  1. Hey, I'm in Keller too. I was able to get two cascade plants to do well last year. I got a few ounces from them. Other than cascade, which one did the best for you this past season?
    Thanks for your time,

    1. The Mt. Hood I planted last year did really well for a while but then the locusts came through and decimated it. The year before I did ok with a sterling plant but it didn't make it through the winter before this one. This year I'm already seeing sprouts popping up on the mt. hood, sterling and nugget I planted last year. I ordered another couple cascade plants that should come late spring to see if I can get them to grow this year.